This episode made me realize that Hanekawa is voiced by Horie Yui. HNNNNNNG.

Obligatory aneurysm aside, as usual I’ll skip the commentary on the character development since others more than adroitly cover it, and instead focus on digging into the supernatural nature of the plot…

First Note: Shinto is an animistic religion, based around the worship of kami – often translated as “gods” but can also be thought of as “spirits”. Essentially, natural objects have supernatural deities of a sort that watch over them – so one has kami for trees, kami for snakes, kami for birds, and so on and so forth. Consequently there are many hundreds of different kami, and plenty of temples dedicated to obscure kami to go around – giving us the starting scenario in Nadeko Snake 1.

Here is the text from the opening flash of Nadeko Snake #1 (brought to you by Zetsubou-honed pausing reflexes!), which I feel reveals HUGE amounts of what is to come.

“I let out a belated shout at the state of Sengoku Nadeko’s skin. All of her skin was covered in scale marks, from the tips of her toes up to her collar bones. Snugly. For a moment, I thought they were growing on her skin, but upon closer inspection, they weren’t. They were simply pressed on, like a woodcut.

It looked like her skin had been pressed into a pattern. It looked like she was even bleeding internally here and there. Those painful looking scars made it look like she was bound with rope. No – bondage scars? Seriously, it was from the tips of her toes, up her legs, and along her body – it was like something was coiling itself around her.

Something invisible.

Scale marks, all along her body.

Coiled around her.

Coiled… as if she were possessed.

Coil.

At best, the only areas without scale marks were both her arms, and from her neck up. No need to get her to show me what her waist and lower abdomen looked like underneath those bloomers.”

Note that Nadeko is not turning into a snake. Rather, there is the IMPRESSION of a snake left upon her body, as if a snake had constricted her and imprinted it’s scale pattern into her skin. A few implications of this:

1) We see Nadeko leaving a shrine dedicated to a snake god (hebi, in Japanese. I am unsure if this will play out later in some form of wordplay, so I note it now.) Perhaps the snake god from this shrine is the one affecting her? If so, that would lead us to point #2… but first,

1a) Meme sends Araragi to put a talisman on the snake shrine.

Talismans in Shinto, or ofuda, are strips of paper with the name of the kami on them. They are to be renewed yearly, to appease the kami of the shrine and protect humans from the wrath of the kami the shrine is dedicated to. This implies that Meme is aware that there is some supernatural threat at that shrine.

As the plot would have it, Araragi of course is too late to properly seal the snake god – it has already cursed Nadeko, who passes him and Suruga while they are climbing the stairs.

2) Nadeko is killing snakes at the shrine. An attempt to break the curse brought upon her by the snake god of the shrine? An act of spiteful rebellion against the snake god?

3) Suruga and Hanekawa both show signs of headaches or soreness in the presence of Nadeko. Migraines and similar muscle pains are both caused by the CONSTRICTION of blood vessels, further hammering home the idea of an invisible snake-god slowly constricting Nadeko and leaving imprints in her skin.
4) Nadeko states at the very end that “she hates her body”. Perhaps this is the typical pre-pubescent angst that teenage girls feel about their appearance, and especially – how THIN they are? In this sense then, Hebi-Kami is fulfilling Nadeko’s wish – she hates her current appearance, so the solution is to make her thinner by CONSTRICTING her.

Questions to ponder… why a snake? Why constriction? Perhaps a metaphorical “choking up”?

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